Growing up, Jessica Fogarty (Class of 2015) spent a lot of time in the forest.
Her interest in the natural environment was something she couldn’t ignore. Following her heart, she found herself studying Plant Science Technology with a specialization in Organic Agriculture at Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture. Now, almost three years after her graduation, Fogarty has launched her own business that falls in line with her love for the forest.
Fog Tree Forest Natural Products is a wild crafting and herbal business based on Cape Breton Island. Fogarty uses wild harvest and locally cultivated plant species to create value added products. Her current products vary from salves, teas, tinctures, pressed leaf gift cards and bookmarks, herbal confectionary and so much more.
“I spent a lot of time with my grandparents at their home in Mabou,” Fogarty said. “Over the years they had a few chickens and pigs and they always kept a garden. Not only did I learn how to grow crops, I learned how to grow soil to reduce soil erosion, build soil organic matter and preserve the integrity of the land. Take care of the earth and it will take care of you.”
The idea for Fog Tree Forest began to form when Fogarty turned to a fellow herbalist for a recipe to cure her own issue.
“I wanted something that would cure my eczema,” Jessica explains. “It worked and I was so fascinated with the skin cell restoration properties of the plantain. How could a little weed that grows in compact soil along the sides of driveways speed up the healing process? Wow!”
It was then that her idea for Fog Tree Forest began to really take shape. She said getting started was not necessarily an easy task.
“Starting your own business is hard! The first step is to write down all of your ideas, brainstorm and then build a business plan. The plan will change a thousand times before the business is launched!”
Once she had a rough idea of her business, Fogarty conducted market research. She looked at her client base, competition, and room for potential growth. She then began to develop her line of products, beginning with a product that wasn’t too extensive and then tweaking products based on sales and popularity. Fogarty also began to establish her brand through both an online and local presence. She then developed a clever name for her business, a play on her last name combined with her memories of the times she spent at her grandparents’ house growing up.
“The name is a play on my last name, Fogarty/Fog Tree,” she said. “It also comes from the mist that settles in the valley below my grandparent’s property in the mornings. It doesn’t matter what kind of day it’s going to be - sunny, cloudy, hot, rainy; the fog rolls into the forest in the morning and rolls out before noon. It’s really very beautiful.”
Not only did her community in Cape Breton adopt Fog Tree Forest and its exquisite products, Dal AC has recognized Fog Tree Forest and has distributed some of Fogarty’s products at student events.
“I recently supplied my Farmer’s Salve for the Dal AC Scholarship Banquet and it was a huge honour,” Fogarty said. “My Farmer’s Salve is an all-purpose salve with a blend of herbs like plantain, calendula, yarrow, chamomile and red clover to help reduce irritation and speed up the healing process.”
Fogarty is now looking to purchase her own property to be able to expand Fog Tree Forest. Her goal is to be able to cultivate a food forest focusing on indigenous and naturalized plants. She also wants to be able to offer her forest as a tourist destination, teaching environment for students and an acceptable venue for dinners, photoshoots, workshops or community activities.
You can follow Fog Tree Forest on Instagram @fogtreeforest
-BY EMMA GELDART-DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY